William Leckie

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Chris & Kerry
December 4, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.
Chicago and New York, Volume II
pg.62 & 63

COL. WILLIAM LECKIE was one of the big, strong, kindly and generous men of the
West Virginia coal fields. A native of Scotland, son of a Scotch miner, he came
to the United States when a young man, finished his education in American
schools and by private study, worked in and around mines for a number of years,
and rose from various positions of responsibility to be a leading mine operator.
He developed some of the best coal openings in Southern West Virginia.

William Leckie was born in Ayreshire, Scotland, on October 4, 1857, a son of
Samuel and Katherine McClellan Leckie. He was the oldest of fourteen children.
As a boy he worked on a farm and in the coal mines of Scotland. At the age of
twenty-one he came to America and located in Shenandoah, Schuylkill County,
Pennsylvania. His father and mother brothers and sisters followed about six
months later. William Leckie entered the mines as repairman, and by industry
and economy he earned the money to enter Dickenson Seminary at Williamsport,
Pennsylvania, where he was a student for two and a half years. In 1882 he was
appointed fire-boss for the Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron company; a year
later he was with the Buck Mountain Coal Company as inside foreman; and as
ambition and faithfulness won for him recognition and rapid advancement he
became, successively, district superintendent for the Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre
Coal Company; general superintendent of the Lehigh Valley Coal, York Farm &
Blackwood Collieries; general superintendent of the Webster Coal & Coke Company;
and, finally, general manager of the Loyal Hanna Coal & Coke Company.

On November 26, 1881, William Leckie married Annie M. Kolb, daughter of the Rev.
F. H. Kolb, a Presbyterian minister, of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. An interested
sharer in his work and witness of his experiences was Mrs. Leckie, and the
inspiration of his ambitions and best endeavors. She made it a rule always to
be present at each opening, when the first car of coal was taken out.

In 1901 William Leckie came to the Pocahontas Coal Fields as superintendent of
the Pocahontas Collieries Company, the pioneer mines of this famous field. He
developed and built up these mines, which were later bought by the Pocahontas
Consolidated Collieries Company. He remained in this position until 1907, when
he went into business for himself and established the following operating
companies, of which he was president and general manager: The West Virginia
Pocahontas Coal Company, with mines at Leckie, West Virginia and general
offices in New York, the Lathrop Coal Company and Panther Coal Company, mines
at Panther, West Virginia, the Leckie Collieries Company, mines at Aflex,
Kentucky, and Leckie Fire Creek Coal Company and Douglas Coal Company, with,
mines at Fireco, West Virginia, the general office of the last four being at
Welch, West Virginia, where Mr. Leckie lived for many years. He was also the
chief incorporator and president of several land-holding companies, the Pond
Creek Coal & Land Company, the Leckie-Ramsay Coal Company, the Cub Creek Coal
Company, and the Leckie Smokeless Coal Company, the latter company owning a
large acreage of undeveloped coal lands in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.
The Leckie Coal Company, a selling agency, with offices at Norfolk, Virginia,
and Columbus, Ohio, handles the output of the operating companies. Mr. Leckie
was president of the First National Bank of Anawalt, West Virginia, of the
Bluefield National Bank at Bluefield, and a director in the First National Bank
of Welch.

Colonel Leckie was a life-long Presbyterian, and was an elder in the church at
Welch. He was a member of all the Masonic orders, of the Bluefield Lodge of
Elks, also of the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the Country Club of
Bluefield. Only a few short weeks before his death Colonel and Mrs. Leckie
moved to their new home on Oakhurst Avenue in Bluefield, and it was there that
he died on November 16, 1920. Five of a family of six children survive him:
Nellie, wife of Dr. S. J. Kell, of Bluefield; Andrew F., of Welch; and William
S., of Williamson, who now have the management, of the coal properties; Douglas
E., who is in the real estate business in Bluefield; and Miriam, who is the wife
of Dr. M. B. Moore, of Huntington.

Colonel Leckie never forgot his own early struggles as a miner. He understood
the miner’s viewpoint, and he made the living and social conditions of his
camps one of his first considerations in building up an operation. Much of his
success is attributed to his capacity for leadership of the men in his employ.
He was a disciplinarian, but not a whip-cracking task-master; he was easy to
approach and his sense of justice and generosity won the loyal friendship of
his employes and kept his operations free from labor troubles.

He was a broad-gauged, whole-souled man and a good citizen, thoroughly imbued
with the highest spirit of Americanism.